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Critical Thinking In Science Education

This study investigated pre-service teachers’ perceptions and utilization of critical thinking in standard-based science education. A convenience sample of 120 pre-service teachers participated in the study by examining the United States’ National K-12 Science Education Standards, using the Critical Thinking Attribute Survey (CTAS) originally developed and validated by the authors to measure critical thinking attributes. The main results of the study identified the science standards that exhibit critical thinking from the pre-service teachers’ perspectives. The process-oriented standards, i.e., the inquiry, nature of science, technology, personal and societal perspectives had higher means than the content standards, of life, physical and Earth sciences. Several specific standard objectives are presented from top and bottom attribution to critical thinking. For example, standard benchmarks that are rated the highest included: think critically and logically to establish relationships between evidence and explanations; design and conduct scientific experiments; and acquire the abilities necessary to do inquiry investigations. Examples of the least standard benchmarks included: structure and function in living systems, transfer of energy, and properties and changes of matter. Discussion is provided to connect results with the current literature review and models of critical thinking, along with recommendations and implications to teacher education and K-12 science education practice and research.

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